osteopathy is a refined and subtle type of osteopathic treatment that
uses very gentle manipulative pressure to encourage the release of
stresses throughout the body, including the head.
Cranial osteopaths are trained to feel
a very subtle, rhythmical shape change that is present in all body
tissues, known as involuntary motion.
The skull is made up of 26
bones that are intricately joined in such a way that during the
rhythmical cycle of involuntary motion, the skull can actually change
shape very slightly to accommodate the normal involuntary motion of the
By placing their hands on a patient’s head and/or
body, the osteopath is able to feel this involuntary motion or lack of
it, and detect whether strain patterns are present that may be restricting motion, possibly causing discomfort.
Birth is an
extremely stressful event during which the baby is subjected to huge
forces as it makes its way along the birth canal. The soft bones in the
baby’s head overlap (mould), thus reducing its size and enabling it to
absorb the stresses of labour. As a result of this, many babies are
born with odd shaped heads, but gradually lose this extreme moulded
shape during the next few days by crying, yawning, feeding. Sometimes
this unmoulding process is incomplete (retained moulding), especially
if the birth has been difficult.
When osteopaths examine babies, areas of tension are often found in the spine or head, which are indications that the baby is uncomfortable. A baby cannot complain of backache or headache, and will typically express this by crying and being unsettled or irritable.
In a research study by Clive Hayden into the effects of cranial osteopathic treatment on babies, some parents perceived the following changes in their children’s behaviour: Reduced colicky crying, improved sleep, less unsettled irritable behaviour and increased quiet happy spells.
Osteopathic treatment can be beneficial in
- Easing some of the general aches and pains associated with pregnancy.
- Preparing for the demands of labour by releasing old strains within the pelvis and ensuring that the pelvis is correctly balanced and aligned, thus helping to relieve any discomfort and giving
the best chance of an easy and uncomplicated labour.
- Helping the mother to recover after birth by helping to resolve any strains arising from postural adaptation to pregnancy and from the process of childbirth.